Fossil Explorist HR Gen 4 Review

If you are like me, you’ve been using fitness trackers for years now but might be considering a smartwatch.

I dipped my toe into that pool last year completely the wrong way… in fact, you could say that I belly-flopped in. I found the cheapest WearOS model on Amazon I could find and even got a renewed version to get the cost even lower.  As you can expect what I got was slow hardware and terrible battery life which made for a horrible overall experience.

What I did learn however was that a smartwatch was something I wanted to invest in as a companion for my device and a tool to help make my daily life a little easier and more organized.  

With that said, today we are going to be taking a look at the next step in my smartwatch journey, the Fossil Explorist HR Gen 4.

When it comes to design, the Explorist feels great. The build quality is solid and on my model, the wrist band is a nice thick rubber further adding to that ‘built to last’ feel. The watch isn’t overly heavy but was definitely a bump in weight and bulk in comparison to a standard fitness band.

The watch face is nice and large and the touch screen was very responsive to both touch and swipe commands. The three buttons also worked great, but the middle button that doubles as a twist dial was the real star of the show

After my previous watch only having touch screen controls, the two customizable buttons made getting to my favorite apps easy and the scroll wheel made navigating the menu’s so much more fluid and natural.  Really, if you plan to get a smartwatch device in the future, look for on that has a dial control… it is truly a game-changer.

To be perfectly honest I wasn’t expecting much when it came to processing power and battery life. My previous watch didn’t perform well on either so I came into the Explorist with some reservations.

While it definitely did perform better, just under two  was about the max I was able to squeeze out when I was making sure to only use it as necessary and keeping the always-on display turned off. 

Using it to its fullest and keeping the always-on display turned on, I was returning this to the charger every night. However, as a routine, this wasn’t bad, and I got into the rhythm. 

I was just happy to not have to charge it in the middle of the day… I only had to do that when I went for a GPS tracked tun, but more on that in a bit.

Running on a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ Wear 2100 this watch isn’t running the latest hardware by any means but runs well enough to get the job done and kept the OS running smoothly.

When it comes to tracking, you have all of the accelerometers, gyroscopes, and altimeters to effectively track a run, walk, or hike, and since this is the HR model you also have the heart rate monitor to capture one more point of data. 

With that said, another main selling point for me was untethered GPS.  While I am a newer runner, it was nice to be able to leave my phone at home and still get accurate tracking with the onboard GPS support. Yes traditional step and gate calculating is great but nothing really replaces true GPS support for quality distance and speed calculation. 

From a fitness tracking perspective, Explorist HR is a complete solution.

Built-in NFC for Android pay is another bonus… as a matter of fact, it was actually pretty helpful in light of the current state of the world, I was able to wirelessly pay at nearly every store I went to, avoiding touching those dirty payment machines.  

On that same note, they even include a handwashing reminder and timer app which was super convenient and hygienic.

One other feature I discovered after the fact that I didn’t plan on was the music and video controls.  Keeping my phone in my pocket or even in the other room while listening to music, it was nice to have visual controls on my wrist for play and pause, skipping tracks, and volume. It even showed the album art and track details which was awesome.

Getting your hands on one of these will run you anywhere from $130 on Fossil’s main website for the version I have, but if you wanted a metal band and a more sophisticated looking frame you can get as high as $260.  

At the end of the day, the Explorist HR is a solid device as a functional addition to your day, and if you fancy exercise it can handle your needs without issue… just prepare to extend your run all the way into the house to get it on the charger. 

I have enjoyed using it and plan to continue doing so until I decide to bite the bullet for a real upgrade, but I’m always curious what you have to say so feel free to leave your comments or questions in the comment section below or hit me up on Twitter or Instagram. 

And remember the goal of this video is to help you make a better tech buying decision, which I hope I have done today.

But as usual that it for me, I’ll see you all in the next review.